Archive for the ‘Calendars’ Category

Calendar wars: DeKalb school board calls truce tonight with parents. Delays change to balanced calendar.

The DeKalb school board delayed a new calendar that would have brought kids back to classes earlier in the summer.  (AP Image)

The DeKalb school board delayed a new calendar that would have brought kids back to classes earlier in the summer. (AP Image)

The new DeKalb school board responded this evening to parental concerns about the haste with which the district adopted a balanced calendar, which features a shorter summer and more breaks during the year.

The board voted to delay the change to a balanced calendar, which had been favored by the former superintendent.

The “balanced” calendar approved by the old school board and now reversed by the new one lopped nearly two weeks off summer break and distributed the vacation days in fall and winter.

Former Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson said the new calendar was better because students forget too much over the long summer break. Surveys showed parents opposed the idea but two-thirds of teachers liked it.

The balanced calendar is followed by neighboring Decatur Schools. Public opinion there varies on the appeal of the calendar, which benefits …

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Shorter summers short teen’s chances to earn money

Do shorter summers hurt the ability of teens to earn college money from such jobs as lifeguarding and camp counselors? (AP Images)

Do shorter summers hurt the ability of teens to earn college money from such jobs as lifeguards and camp counselors? (AP Images)

As a parent in a metro district that returns to school Aug. 1 under a “balanced calendar,” I read this Sunday AJC essay by Roswell parent Vicki Griffin with a personal interest.

While Griffin wrote the column to address the issue of lobbyist fees, she mentions her son’s experience in protesting his school district’s dwindling summer breaks.

That is a growing issue as more systems move to modified year-round or balanced calendars in which students have shorter summers and more breaks throughout the school year. Some states have essentially blocked short summers by legislating that school cannot start earlier than late August.

In fact, North Carolina passed a law that specifies school start dates: Start date no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26 and end date no later than the Friday closest to June 11 (unless a weather related calendar …

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Can we simultaneously fix and flee public schools?

artchangeCan we simultaneously fix and flee public schools?

I wondered about that question after meetings with Georgia’s last Democratic governor, Roy Barnes, and House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta. The men sat down with the AJC recently to discuss education issues in the state.

In many areas, the two leaders — both noted for their interest in education — see eye to eye.

“Just because a child is born in Schley County and not Forsyth County, you cannot constitutionally justify that child is going to receive an inferior education just because of an accident of birth,” said Barnes.

Speaking to AJC reporters a week later, Lindsey said much the same thing. “The fact of where a child is born should not determine whether they are going to have a future or not. Wherever a child is born, we have to concentrate on how to get them the education they need.”

Where the two leaders disagree is over the fundamental definition of public education: Is schooling a collective concern funded and …

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Shouldn’t public school calendars take needs of working parents into consideration?

Atlanta is among the districts reconsidering year-round schools where summers are only five weeks long. (AJC photo)

Atlanta is among the districts reconsidering year-round schools where summers are only five weeks long. (AJC photo)

The AJC has an interesting story today on the reconsideration of  year-round school schedules where students have a shortened summer — around five weeks  — and more breaks sprinkled throughout the year.

The story says there’s no strong evidence that the year-round calendar improves student performance. As a result, AJC education writer Mark Niesse says Atlanta may end its experiment with year-around schooling.

While this story focused on “year-round” schools, there are systems, including my own, that have adopted “modified year-around” calendars where students return to classes as early as Aug. 1. Under that schedule, students have seven to eight weeks off in the summer and week-long breaks in the fall and winter, in addition to the standard April spring break.

While both year-round and modified calendars accommodate families with the flexibility and finances to …

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Questions on DeKalb’s adoption of a balanced calendar. Why all the tinkering with calendars?

A DeKalb teacher sent me some good questions on the district’s adoption this week of a balanced calendar with a shorter summer and more breaks during the year.

It is interesting how much time is devoted to calendar debates in metro Atlanta. Cobb is going to revisit its calendar again, too, even though adoption of a balanced calendar a few years back led to a rapid reversal and turnover on the school board. None of the options under review in Cobb is a balanced calendar.

Spurred by the travel and vacation industry, North Carolina passed a law in 2004 that schools cannot open until Aug. 25.  The law gained some flexibility this year and now says the opening date can be “no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26” and closing date “no later than the Friday closest to June 11.”  Districts can seek waivers and many do.

So far, I have only heard from folks in DeKalb unhappy with the new calendar, but I am sure there are parents and teachers who are pleased with it. Any of you …

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DeKalb: Official statement on move to balanced calendar

Official statement from DeKalb on calendar change:

After receiving more than 12,000 responses for input, the DeKalb Board of Education voted to approve the superintendent’s recommended 2013-14 calendar at its meeting Mondy. With it, the DeKalb County School District adopts a balanced calendar, and classes will begin for students on Aug. 5, 2013, and end on May 29, 2014.

The approved calendar includes 180 days of instruction for students and 190 teacher-contract days. The semesters are divided equally with 90 days of instruction for each.

One of the 10 teacher-contract days is comprised of four two-hour conference nights scheduled by each school during the year. With the balanced calendar, the first semester, including all final exams and End of Course Tests, will conclude prior to the winter break.

Based on feedback received, the spring break was moved to be in line with other metro-Atlanta districts. Spring break will be April 7-11, 2014. While the approved calendar has an …

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DeKalb moves to shorter summer, more breaks during the year under new balanced calendar

Back to school will come sooner next year for DeKalb students. (AP Image)

Back to school will come sooner next year for DeKalb students. (AP Image)

As does neighboring Decatur, DeKalb schools will now follow a  “balanced” calendar, which means a shorter summer and more breaks during the year for the system’s nearly 100,000 students.

And like Decatur, DeKalb is adopting the new calendar even though surveys show parents prefer the longer summer. DeKalb will move to the balanced calendar next year.

According to AJC reporter Ty Tagami:

The school board voted 6-2 Monday for the new calendar. (Board member Sarah Copelin-Wood was absent.) It will clip nearly two weeks from summer break and sprinkle those vacation days in fall and winter.

Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson has said students forget too much during the traditional three-month summer break. She proposed the new calendar after a survey showed most teachers wanted it.

School will start Aug. 5 instead of Aug. 12 and will end May 29 instead of May 23. This will allow a three-day fall break …

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Clayton early release days: Is it reasonable to change school schedule this late in the game?

At its meeting tonight, the Clayton school board delayed Clayton Superintendent Edmond Heatley’s proposal to release students early every Wednesday to create teacher planning time.

The board’s vote to delay seems a wise course of action given the abbreviated timeline for the dramatic shift in the school schedule.

Under the proposal that Heatley unveiled to the board eight days ago, elementary schools would be release 60 minutes early, middle schools would be released 75 minutes early and high schools would be released 90 minutes early.

Clayton parents argued it was crazy to spring this change on them just days before classes resume. Clayton students return to class Aug. 13.

Heatley ought to have consulted his counterpart in DeKalb. DeKalb’s Cheryl Atkinson found similar parental resistance when she floated three calendar options that all included a Wednesday early release. Even thought Atkinson put forth her proposals in April, DeKalb parents complained that it was too short …

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Is a longer school year a reform worth considering? Or, is the cost too much and the payoff too little?

While 170 schools around the country have added school days, some Georgia students are returning to shorter schools years, a consequence of budget cuts. (AP Image)

While 170 schools around the country have added school days, some Georgia students are returning to shorter schools years, a consequence of budget cuts. (AP Image)

With some Georgia districts adopting a shorter school year to cope with budget cuts, I thought this New York Times story on the opposite trend was worth sharing.

The National Center on Time and Learning, a nonprofit research group in Boston, reports that about 170 schools — most of them charters — have extended their calendars to 190 days or longer, according to the Times story.

Here is an excerpt but try to read the full piece in the Times:

A growing group of education advocates is agitating for more time in schools, arguing that low-income children in particular need more time to catch up as schools face increasing pressure to improve student test scores. “It’s not as simple as ‘Oh, if we just went 12 hours every kid would be Einstein,’ ” said Chris Gabrieli, chairman of the Boston group. “On the other hand, the …

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Rather than slash 10 days, could DeKalb schools shut down for month of July?

I watched the DeKalb school board meeting long enough today to hear the school chief announce that the state DOE said DeKalb could cut its school year by additional days.

With an $85 million deficit and no reserves, a proposal is on the table for DeKalb to slash 10 more days.

According to the AJC:

Paul Womack wants to cut an additional 10 days from the school calendar.In approving a tentative general fund budget, the board had already voted to reduce the school calendar for students by two days. Four furlough days approved for teachers in prior years would also remain, but they would not affect students.

Officials said it costs the system $3 million a day to operate, so the proposal could save $30 million — enough to balance the budget without a tax increase. But they needed time to check on the details, so the budget deliberations were postponed until 6 p.m. Thursday.

But Lisa Morgan, a teacher and representative of the advocacy group Organization of DeKalb Educators, …

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